On 7 June 2017 Kafish B.V. a Dutch company which owns the UK registered trawler Margriet LT36 and its master, Dutch national Peter Kuyt, pleaded guilty to 13 breaches of the Sea Fish (Conservation) Act 1967 and the Fisheries Act 1981 at North Tyneside Magistrates’ Court.
The court heard that during two separate investigations carried out by the MMO, Vessel Monitoring System data and logbook entries identified that the vessel had committed numerous offences between 2016 and 2017.
The first investigation showed that in 2016 the vessel had, on three occasions committed offences of fishing within a seasonal closure area and on one occasion fishing in a real time closure area.
The second investigation revealed that in 2017 a further eight offences of fishing within a seasonal closure area and another offence of failing to keep an accurate logbook were committed between January and March.
Sentencing the owner and master, District Judge Sarah-Jane Griffiths said “You have acknowledged that these were serious offences and it is surprising to me that after the offences in 2016 were brought to your attention in June you committed a further 8 offences. To me it is clear that by that time at least you knew you shouldn’t have been in those areas.”
Despite being registered in the UK and, therefore, being required to comply with a UK fishing licence, the vessel is owned by Kafish B.V., a Dutch company. They were fined £66,000, with an additional fine of £80,000 to cover the value of the fish illegally caught, £3,500 costs and a victim surcharge of £170.
The vessel master, a Dutch national named Peter Kuyt, was fined £8,536.33 with an additional fine of £15,000 to cover the value of the fish illegally caught, £741 costs and a victim surcharge of £170.
A spokesman for the MMO said:
“The court in this case has sent a clear message that these were serious offences which were aggravated by the fact that the offences were repeated on numerous occasions.
The size of the fines imposed by the court in this case shows both the scale of damage to the marine environment caused by offences of this nature and the profits made by the perpetrators of these crimes.
Fisheries offences like these are committed at the expense of the legitimate, law-abiding members of the fishing industry who rely on the sustainability of fishing grounds for their livelihoods and future.
The MMO will always take appropriate enforcement action including pursuing and bringing prosecutions to court to protect the long term viability of the marine environment for future generations.”